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"It's like the day after a funeral" - Ireland's Fittest Family farmer laments sale of herd of 1,000 cattle by bank

Farmer and Ireland’s Fittest Family winner Peter Kingston faces a €2.45 million judgement against him secured by ACC Bank.

kingston Peter Kingston

A CORK FARMER has told of his misery at having his prize herd of 1,000 cattle sold at auction by a bank which secured a €2.45 million judgement against him.

51-year-old Peter Kingston from Nohoval in Cork, whose family once emerged victorious in RTÉ’s Ireland’s Fittest Family, yesterday saw his herd sold having found himself heavily indebted to ACC Bank who according to Kingston had ceased to negotiate over those debts from 2013 onwards.

A clearly emotional Kingston told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke that the feeling of losing his herd was akin to “the day after a funeral”.

“It’s a reality day, a surreal day,” he said. “Looking back on it it’s a terrible experience both for me and my family, we’re going to cope with that as best we can in the aftermath.”

Kingston’s herd, consisting of at least 500 cows and their offspring totalling about 1,000 animals in total, went under the hammer yesterday.

“Farming is in my genes,” he said.

Some would call it an illness, but you get to like being with cows, then you want to make a living, to grow, develop, reproduce, what life is all about.
We had an ambition to succeed.

3600803259_1e041070cc_o Source: Idleman

Speaking of his heavy borrowings, Kingston said that he wanted “to do more than just farming in life”.

There are lots of farmers who work day and night and never get away, they find it very difficult to have a life outside farming.

He described his business as permanently running “short” of €250,000 in working capital from the beginning of his dealings with the banks.

We were just dragging it along, but we made repayments up to 2013. Then it was suggested that we try to buy the loan for a figure of about €1.2 million. But then ACC said no. And they took it through the courts.

Kingston remains unimpressed at the fact ACC were able to “go after my livestock”.

“I never gave a personal guarantee or guarantees over my livestock,” he said.

Yet still the courts were quite happy to give the bank judgements over my herd.

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Roughly €600,000 to €700,000 was raised by the herd-sale, which will go towards Kingston’s debts. He maintains that he doesn’t know who the buyers are, but says it “will be known in time who bought them”.

“I wouldn’t buy livestock in such a situation myself,” he said, adding that ” a very small crowd of buyers” had gathered for the sale.

Kingston is married with three children. The judgement against him will not touch his family home.

“Look, we don’t give up so easy,” he said. “The farm isn’t mine anymore, but there are people out there who have things far worse than we do.”

He insists that his situation is the norm rather than the exception in Ireland at present however.

This is nothing new from the banks. This kind of thing is going on around the clock.

Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud

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